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Val Michelson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: N143

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains drawings, bluelines, and details of thirteen buildings, including St. John's Abbey Church (1957-1961) and Prep School(1954-1967); St. Paul Priory (1962-1969); Stewart Hall, St. Cloud State University (1976); the Newman Center, University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh(1966-1967); First National Bank (Dennison, IA, 1975); St. Theresa Home (New Hope, MN, 1966-1967); Women's Community Housing (St. Paul, n.d.); Itasca Community College (1986-1989); and five private dwellings.


  • 1954-1990


Language of Materials


Restrictions on Access

Available for use in the Manuscripts Division reading room. Advance notice is requested.

Restrictions on Use

Please contact staff regarding copyright status of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Biographical Note

Val Michelson was born in St. Petersburg, Russia on March 22, 1916. He studied architecture at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Leningrad from 1935 to 1941. He was an engineer in the Soviet army from 1941 until captured by the Germans in 1942. Because of his training and knowledge of the German language, he was put to work as an interpreter and in construction, planning sewage systems and converting buildings to use as field hospitals and other facilities. After the war, Michelson worked in a displaced persons camp where he met his wife, Helgi. From 1946 to 1948, he attended the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe, Germany, and helped set up temporary schools where refugees could continue their education until permanent ones were reopened.

The Michelsons immigrated to the United States in 1949, settling near Ithaca, NY. For a time, Michelson worked as a waiter during the day and in an architectural firm in the evening. He attended Columbia University in 1951-1952, earning an MS in architecture. From 1951 to 1953, he practiced in the office of Percival Goodman in New York City as a designer and job captain, collaborating on the design of the Temple of Aaron, St. Paul, MN. From 1953 to 1960, Michelson was affiliated with Marcel Breuer of New York. He came to Collegeville, Minnesota to be designer, project supervisor, and resident architect on Breuer's St. John's Abbey Church project. Upon its completion in 1961, he moved to St. Paul and formed a partnership with Edward Hanson. From 1963 until his retirement in 1990, he maintained his own firm, Val Michelson & Associates. He also taught classes in the University of Minnesota's School of Architecture from 1963 until his retirement in 1985.


18 Cubic Feet


Collection contains plans and drawings of buildings designed by architect Val Michelson.


The collection is organized alphabetically by commission name.

Physical Location

Mezzanine; A-V Room; High Bay

Additional Finding Aid

An unpublished finding aid with detailed contents is available in the Manuscripts Division.


The collection was donated to the Northwest Architectural Archives by Val Michelson on October 31, 1990.

Related Material

Val Michelson papers
Archives Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Northwest Architectural Archives Collecting Area